In this impressive video, between 40s and one minute, one can see white "dots" traveling very fast.

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What are these? My guess is that the separation with the payload is done thanks to pyrotechnic means and these dots are residue from the explosion. But I'm curious if this is the correct answer.

In that particular example, the payload is released at a very low altitude (50 km), but I was wondering it this could be the source of micro meteoroids when done higher.

  • $\begingroup$ My guess is that is not pyrotechnic residues. It is most likely space debris in LEO. Space debris is a more present issue than most would know/would like to admit. $\endgroup$
    – Inti
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 22:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Inti - At 50km altitude it's certainly not LEO debris unrelated to the flight itself, and in any case nowhere is lingering space debris that dense. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


I believe the sparks are coming from propellant residue from the solid-fueled rocket (a Black Brant IX according to this article). You can see some similar sparks flying immediately at launch. Modern solid rocket propellant typically consists of powdered aluminum and other components in a rubber binder; for a short period after burnout you could expect some glowing-hot particles would be shedding from the walls of the rocket motor casing.

  • $\begingroup$ Not necessarily -- the nature of the camera is such that it may not be able to give accurate color representation to a small bright object -- but I'll compromise with "glowing-hot". $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 15:45

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